The preseason is finally over for the Seahawks, and on a high note. The Seahawks comfortably handled the Raiders 20-3, answering many of my questions about them in the process. Tarvaris Jackson threw the ball well, completing five of seven passes and making just one bad throw that resulted in his interception. Jackson got off to a quick start on the team’s first drive, hitting three of his first four passing attempts (though one didn’t count because of a penalty on Oakland) and moving the team from its own 20 yard line to inside Oakland’s 20. However, Jackson threw into double coverage and was intercepted on first and ten from the Oakland 15.
The Raiders responded by driving into Seahawk territory and attempting a long field goal, but missed. On the first play of their ensuing drive, the Seahawks struck on a deep pass. Jackson hit receiver Golden Tate on a 43 yard pass down the right sideline. After the next three plays failed to yield a first down, kicker Jeff Reed gave the Seahawks the lead with a short, 25 yard field goal.
The second team offense extended the lead in the second quarter when Thomas Clayton barreled into the end zone on a one yard touchdown run. The touchdown capped a beautiful 13 play, six and a half minute drive.
The Raiders were able to kick a field goal before half time, but had great difficulty moving the ball against the rigid Seahawks defense.
Jeff Reed added a field goal in the fourth quarter, and Vai Taua rounded off the scoring with a short touchdown run.
From a fan’s perspective, I saw what I wanted to see. I saw my team finally move the ball well and move the ball consistently. I saw my team’s defense hold the Raiders to just 47 rushing yards and only 228 yards total. While it is important to keep in perspective that many starters did not play for both teams, the players who did play for the Seahawks played well.
A key for me this week was the pass protection that was given to Tarvaris Jackson. Jackson has been widely criticized for poor play this preseason, but has been the victim of terrible blocking. Jackson looked much better against the Raiders than he has in previous games, and I think he can get the job done. If the passing game falters, it likely will be the line’s fault. If Jackson does play poorly, Charlie Whitehurst’s play this preseason leads me to think that he could also adequately man the quarterback spot. He has to be one of the best reserve quarterbacks in the league, and seems to be running the new offense well.
The Seahawks beat potential Raider pass-rushing pressure by hitting running backs on quick swing passes or screens, which are generally considered an antidote for quarterbacks who are under pressure in the backfield. This strategy worked well (along with some improved blocking), and Seahawk quarterbacks were sacked just once all game.
Seahawks receiver Golden Tate had been rumored to be playing for his job against the Raiders, with the team required to cut its roster down to 53 players before the regular season starts. Tate accounted for over 200 total yards, and was the player of the game in my opinion. He made people miss in the open field on his kick returns and was the main ingredient in the passing game. Tate was the team’s second-round draft pick from last year’s draft.
The defense also looked good against Oakland, holding the Raiders to just one field goal. The front four looks to be a physical bunch, and held their ground against the Raider line. The Hawks didn’t blitz much, and looked to be playing a lot of zone coverage. Given the personnel that they have been acquiring, this would make sense. By committing a certain amount of defenders to specific passing zones, the zone defense can be beaten by receiver overloads and timing routes. However, it prevents big plays, and forces opponents to sustain long drives. This, combined with good run defense, can be the bread and butter of a successful NFL defense.
In addition to displaying good strength up front, the Seahawks tackled well, wrapping up ball-carriers quickly and before they could break into the secondary. One area of concern was the number of pass interference penalties called against the Seahawks. The Hawks have a young secondary with a number of tall players (generally, the shorter the player, the more quickly they can change direction because they take shorter strides), making these penalties more likely. The secondary appears to be the weakest point of the defense at the moment, and its improvement will be vital to the teams’ chances this season.
Overall, there was more good than bad for the Seahawks in their final preseason game. From a fan’s perspective, the Raiders game was an encouraging sight. The first-team offense showed signs of consistency, the defense looked good, and the Seahawks won comfortably. The preseason is finally over, and next week, the Hawks open the regular season with a matchup against their division rivals, the San Francisco 49ers.
Check back soon for a season preview and analysis of this week’s roster decisions as the team makes its final cuts.
About the Author
Written by Erik Olsoy
Erik was born in Columbus, Ohio during the only Ohio State football victory over Michigan in the 1980s, but moved to Washington state and grew up there. His loyalty to Ohio State remains strong, but his strongest allegiances developed toward Seattle sports. Though he recently graduated from Boston College, he has not yet been converted to the ways of New England Sportsdom, and only roots for the Red Sox against the Yankees because the Yankees are the root of all evil.